Sicily: Eagle theft and finch trade
In Sicily we are dealing with two issues at the same time: The theft of eagle chicks for falconers and animal collectors and the catching and trading of finches for the pet market.
Chick theft for falconry
Italy's last Bonelli's eagles, Lanner falcons and Egyptian vultures breed on Sicily. The populations of these species have shrunk dramatically in recent decades, and the Egyptian vulture is now on the verge of extinction. About 30 pairs of the Bonelli's eagle are still breeding in Sicily!
The reason for the decline of these species is, apart from habitat destruction and illegal hunting, above all the stealing of eggs! Ruthless animal dealers rob the nests in order to sell the highly-desired birds to falconers, bird collectors and other "animal lovers" for a lot of money. In recent years, a large network of smugglers has established themselves, who serve half of Europe from Sicily with eagles and other birds of prey.
In order to counter this worrying development, the "Coordinamento Tutela Rapaci Sicilia" group was formed in 2012 from various ornithological and nature conservation associations. The declared aim is to coordinate the monitoring of all nests targeted by nest robbers. The campaign has been a resounding success: the number of sightings has fallen drastically and the population of Bonelli's eagles has since stabilised.